Raids in Germany target suspected coronavirus aid fraudsters

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Raids in Germany target suspected coronavirus aid fraudsters

Suspected fraudsters accused of applying for millions in coronavirus-related financial aid were the target of raids in four German states on Tuesday, reported dpa.

Officers from the police and investigators searched 25 properties belonging to the five main suspects in the case in Lower Saxony, North Rhine Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg.

In addition to companies and private homes, a privately run sports hall in the town of Wiesmoor in Lower Saxony was also searched.

The hall was said to be the headquarters of a consulting firm whose operator is at the centre of the investigation, local media reported.

"The suspicion is that this is a possible criminal network," said Osnabrück police spokesperson Marco Ellermann.

The men are suspected of having applied for a total of around €26 million ($27.8 million) in Lower Saxony and other federal states during the pandemic for their own purposes and for contracted companies, using "deliberately false information."

Police said it was not yet clear how much money was actually paid out, but investigators believe it to be in the region of several million euros.

It is also not clear to what extent employees at the small companies who worked with the consulting firm knew about the alleged fraud.

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